Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions




I’m thinking about having a swimming pool installed in my backyard.  Where do I start – Are there different basic kinds of pools?

Yes.  The major division lies between in-ground pools and above-ground pools.


Are the names “in-ground pool” and “above-ground pool” as straightforward as they seem?

Yes.  In-ground pools require excavation, because they are actually built into the ground.  Above-ground (or “on-ground”) pools are held in freestanding structures that sit on the ground.


Are above-ground pools temporary?

Certainly more so than any in-ground pool, but when people refer to above-ground pools, they typically don’t mean temporary pools, which is a label reserved for pools that are meant to be put together and taken apart every summer. 


Which is more expensive, an in-ground pool or an above-ground pool?

In-ground pools are almost always more expensive, because before you can build the pool, you have to dig a hole.  Plumbing work can also be more difficult underground, and the concrete or fiberglass required for an in-ground pool is almost always more than what would be needed for an above-ground pool of the same volume.


If in-ground pools are more expensive, are they also better?

Some people think so. Since they are literally built into the yard, they often are more aesthetically pleasing, and can sometimes be more seamlessly incorporated into a yard; however, some yards are too small for a good fit, and there are some really wonderful looking above-ground pools.


Are pools difficult to keep clean?

No.  Most in-home pools and spas have filtration and sanitation systems that essentially run by themselves.  You will need to regularly check the pH and mineral levels in your water though, adding chemicals when needed.


What is a pool filter?

A pool filter is the key component of the water circulation and filtration system.  Filters typically use sand, charcoal, or a similar material to remove debris from the water flow.


I’ve heard of ultraviolet pool filters.  What are those?

Ultraviolet filters use ultraviolet light to destroy microbes, adding a very high-tech level to the filter hierarchy.


Do spas and hot tubs have filters too?

Yes.  Spas and hot tubs have similar, but downsized plumbing as compared to larger pools.


For that matter, are spas and hot tubs the same thing?

Generally speaking, yes.  They both refer to the same basic thing, which is a specialized pool intended for hot water soaks, almost always involving at least a few massage jets.  There are distinctive variations in usage though: a hot tub that is inside is probably a spa; a spa that is outside is more likely to be a hot tub, especially if it is made of wood; all spas have jets; etc.  Since the word “spa” also refers to a type of place, it can get even more confusing.


What exactly is a private spa?

A private spa is a spa that is in your home, rather than in, say, a hotel, or gym.


Is a spa the same thing as a jacuzzi?

No, but yes.  Jacuzzi is actually the name of a well-known spa manufacturer, but many people do use it to refer to hot tubs and spas in general, much like the case of Kleenex, a popular brand of tissue.


Do spas really promote wellness?

Spa therapy has consistently proven to be therapeutic in the treatment of a variety of ailments, according to a lot of people with medical degrees.  And an awful lot more people find hot tubs to be effective at alleviating such things as daily soreness, tension headaches, and muscle tightness.  Whether or not all this counts as promoting wellness is up to you!


Do I need a cover for my pool?

Absolutely.  Without a pool cover you’ll end up swimming in cold, dirty water.  A cover protects your precious warm water from evaporation and gathers new heat from the sun at the same time.  It will also drastically reduce the amount of time you are required to spend skimming dead bugs and tree parts off of the water with an awkward net.  Most importantly though, covers are instrumental to pool safety.


What is pool safety?

In general, pool safety simply refers to the practice of being a cautious and responsible pool owner.  More specifically, it tends to refer to preventive measures taken against accidental drowning, which should be considered a serious risk around any body of water.


Should I be concerned with safety measures regarding a hot tub?

Yes.  It is always possible for an accident to happen, and while this doesn’t mean that we should expect them to happen, it does mean that we should work to maintain a safe environment so that accidents don’t get any extra encouragement.  Covering a pool or spa is an easy and amazingly effective measure.  The other big consideration is the pool fence.


What is a pool fence?

A pool fence is an enclosure around a pool (or the entire yard) that is specifically designed to discourage climbing, especially by small children and animals.  They can be built out of any number of materials, and in any number of styles.


Is a pool fence required by law?

Some states have pool fence laws, including Florida and California, and many local communities have specific statutes for their respective citizens.  If you plan to install a pool or spa, and are unsure about the fencing codes in your area, contact your installer and ask him.  


Are there any other safety precautions I should take around my swimming pool?

Running, glass, and “excessive” horseplay are never a good idea.  Obviously electricity and water are a bad mix.  If you have a door that leads directly from the house to the pool deck, it should always be kept locked.


What about spa safety?

The most important thing to remember about spas is that they are very hot – hotter than the inside of your body likes to be.  Thirty minutes is a long time to spend in one session – just be careful about the heat, especially if you have consumed any alcohol.